What is the difference between managers and leaders?

Leaders and managers play important roles in an organization as they direct a wide range of activities that keeps the company running. 

Differentiating the roles of a leader and a manager can be quite difficult as many people use both roles interchangeably in formal settings. There is yet to be a clear difference in the functions and responsibilities within some organizations as roles sometimes overlap.

In this article, you will learn what differentiates managers from leaders and vice versa. In addition, you will also learn which of these two roles you should be referred to.


Managers are those majorly in charge of directing the organization’s activities. As expected, there are hierarchies in the managerial structure, which is why managers have several positions in the traditional corporate setting. Some managers are involved in supervising employees, while others at the top of this hierarchy are responsible for making organizational decisions and setting policies that affect organizational growth. 

According to F.W.Taylor, managers are those with formal authority responsible for forecasting, planning, organizing, and commanding the operations within an organization. In simpler terms, a manager is responsible for coordinating the efforts of individuals and allocating resources.


The word ‘leader’ points to millions of positions and duties as leadership speaks volumes of being the forerunner in terms of accomplishing a goal or project. According to Keith Davis, a leader is “someone who possesses the ability to persuade others to seek defined objectives enthusiastically. It is the human factor which binds a group together and motivates it towards goals”.

Leadership is the ability of the management of a company to set and achieve challenging goals, outperform its competitors, take immediate and decisive action when needed, and inspire others to perform optimally. It is the process where an executive directs, influences and guides the behavior and work of others towards accomplishing a desired set of goals. 

Managers Vs Leaders

Management is the director of business affairs as it solely focuses on business protocols and processes to help achieve corporate or professional goals. Managers are (most times) seen as domineering bosses, and this creates a negative connotation as many employees in popular commercial merchandise view managers as rigid authoritarians with no regard for others. 

Managers formulate organizational structure and delegate responsibilities to employees, which may not favor the lower subordinates. They are known to enact the long-existing work culture and maintain the status quo of professionalism. Managerial processes are transactional as tasks are delegated, and objectives are expected to be met.

Leadership involves the direct operations, performance, or activity which concentrates on people or those in a non-professional field. However, leadership can also be found in professional fields as there are excellent leaders that effectively and efficiently focus on business processes and people.

Leaders often create a positive and welcoming environment for their employees to thrive and promote effective communication. This allows employees to view leaders as more inclusive, open, and loving. They often direct employees by creating and communicating visions while encouraging others to reach the vision effortlessly during work. 

The administration process of leaders is transformational because they develop visions and formulate means of achieving goals as a leader would be happy to promote change. They also create influential circles and lead by inspiring others and breaking down complex tasks for easy understanding.

How good organizational governance can promote organizational growth.

As mentioned above, there is a clear analysis of the conceptual nature of both roles. It is deducible that while managers have subordinates, leaders have followers. Today, most companies are changing the primarily assigned connotation to both terms, and managers are beginning to adapt to the behaviors of leaders. 

Organizations have realized that for their growth, it is essential that their workers should effectively perform their responsibilities and speak out when the need arises. Organizations have also realized that credence and respect placed on the managerial staff would not necessarily decline if managers do not act despotic or as dictators.


In conclusion, it is imperative to note that the roles can be regarded as mere tags as it is not the title that matters but the way of work. Hence, managers can choose to lead, and leaders can choose to manage. Irrespective of the differences, the most successful people are those who understand the best time to display the traits of a ‘leader’ or ‘manager’.

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